Finding accommodation in Edinburgh will naturally be a top priority for newly arrived expats. Those fresh off the plane need not lose much sleep over the issue though, as there's a wide variety of housing available with something to suit everyone's lifestyle and pocket.
Edinburgh is rather compact and has a reliable and easy-to-use transportation system, so proximity to work need not be a major concern when choosing where to live. That said, an expat family with children who will be attending a state-sponsored school will be bound by catchment areas and should find out which areas are associated with the best educational institutions.
Types of accommodation in Edinburgh
Expats will quickly find that Edinburgh itself is a relatively small city, made up of various distinct areas and suburbs, each with its own character.
New arrivals should consider whether they'd like to live in an old or modern flat (apartment), and whether they would prefer to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city centre or the more relaxed atmosphere of the surrounding suburbs.
Most of the accommodation found in the city centre of Edinburgh is in traditional tenements, some dating as far back as the 1700s. Though some are rather densely packed and somewhat small, they can be extremely charming with perks like Victorian-era architecture, wooden shutters and high ceilings.
Finding accommodation in Edinburgh
We'd recommend that expats arrange short-term accommodation for their arrival in Edinburgh, to give themselves a place to stay while house hunting.
For first-time Edinburgh renters, contacting a letting agency will likely be the best way to start; agents can advise regarding districts that would be most suitable, and can provide a more in-depth look at the renting options in Edinburgh. Expats should keep in mind that letting agencies will only show properties they have listed in their portfolio, so be sure to visit several.
Alternatively, available properties can also be found by browsing online property sites and reading the property sections of local newspapers.
Renting accommodation in Edinburgh
Once a potential tenant has found a property they like, they'll need to submit an application. Applicants are typically asked to submit references and information about their credit history. New arrivals without Scottish renting and credit histories may still be able to rent their intended home at an extra cost.
In most cases, tenants will need to pay a deposit equivalent to one or two months rent, but if expats lack a local credit history or references they may be asked to provide up to six months' rent upfront. This is most commonly the case with letting agencies but not always private landlords, so expats without the funds for this kind of expense may do well to opt for private leasing.
Flats available for rent are let by agencies or directly by private landlords. The typical long-term lease is for six months or a year. Rental rates vary according to the size of the property, the location and the level of furnishing.
Utilities and council tax aren't typically included in the cost of rent and are an extra expense for the tenant. Expats should keep this in mind when budgeting for housing expenses.
For more detail see Setting up Household Utilities in the UK.
In Edinburgh, expats will be able to find furnished, unfurnished or partially furnished flats, depending on their needs. Do be aware, though, that 'furnished' properties vary significantly, so be sure to confirm what furniture, appliances and utensils are included in the property beforehand.
Buying property in Edinburgh
Home ownership is less practical for some and more appealing to others, and mostly depends on the amount of time an expat will be spending in the city.
Before making an offer on a property, it's a good idea to read the property’s home report (available from the seller or their agent) and to have arranged mortgage conditions with a bank.
Additionally, home buyers will need to secure the services of a solicitor to handle the legal aspects of the purchase. More detailed information about buying a home in Edinburgh, as well as information about property taxes for Edinburgh residents, can be found on the Scottish government website.
►Education and Schools in Edinburgh provides information on local schooling options
Are you an expat living in Edinburgh?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Edinburgh. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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